The National Military Command Structure and U.S. Grand Strategy

The National Military Command Structure (NMCS) is the organizational framework for the command and control of US operational forces worldwide.  MIT SSP Professor Harvey Sapolsky’s project explores the origins and development of, the organizational philosophy underlying, the policy impact and effectiveness of, and the opportunities to improve the NMCS.  The structure divides responsibilities between Washington and the field and among support and combat commands, and both is the means by which we implement our national strategy and an influence on it. It is at the core of US civil/military relations.  Building the NMCS required many compromises among the services, and utilizing it in overseas conflicts retests each of these compromises. Reformers seek often not NMCS’ curtailment, but rather its expansion. Soldiers are taught to obey it, and yet it is often ignored by those who man its subunits and the Commander in Chief who sits at its top.

This project is managed by Harvey Sapolsky, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Organization.